16 suspects in a massive information leak arrested

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16 suspects in a massive information leak arrested

Authorities yesterday uncovered another massive leak of personal information, which the perpetrators used to steal hundreds of millions of won worth of online game money and make financially fraudulent transactions worth billions of won.

The South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency said yesterday that it had arrested a 24-year-old man, surnamed Kim, as well as 15 others over allegations that they illegally circulated the personal information of 27 million people between the ages of 15 and 65.

According to population data released by Statistics Korea last year, the 27 million victims comprise 72 percent of the entire population between 15 and 65.

According to police, Kim reportedly received 220 million personal information items, including the names, resident registration numbers, account names and passwords, of the 27 million people from a Chinese hacker he met in an online game in 2011.

The police suspect he used the personal information to steal online game currency by using a hacking tool known as an “extractor,” which automatically logs on to a user’s accounts once the login and password are entered. He is also thought to have sold those cyber items for profit.

When passwords he received were wrong, he allegedly bought the personal information on the identification cards and their issue dates from a cellphone retailer in Daegu to change the passwords himself.

The police said Kim is believed to have earned about 400 million won ($390,919) hacking into six major games in Korea, then giving 130 million won to the Chinese hacker and taking the rest for himself.

The authority also suspect Kim sold the personal information he was given by the Chinese hacker to others. He is believed to have sold personal information to mortgage fraud swindlers at 10 to 100 won per item, and to illegal gambling advertisers at 300 won per item.

Those sales apparently led to secondary damages. Hundreds of people were deceived by the swindlers between September 2012 and November 2013, and the financial damage they had added up to 2 billion won, according to the police.

The authorities are looking into how the leaked personal information was circulated and are also pursuing seven other suspects, including the hacker in China.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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